Hebrew Mind vs. Greek Mind
THE NATURE OF MAN
by Brad Scott
THE GREEK VIEW OF THE NATURE OF MAN
As we continue our journey in understanding Greek thinking, it will become more and more obvious what I am going to teach. As we get more and more accustomed to this view, it will be very easy to detect the use of this thinking when we read commentaries or listen to most modern day sermons. How the very essence of man is seen is very important in understanding why modern Christianity has a difficult time teaching, believing, or accepting most of the Old Testament theology. As I have said before, most New Testament teaching uses the Old Testament stories as object lessons or to illustrate the contrast between law and grace. Most Christians do not know the teaching of the Tanakh nor do they want to. The modern day concept of the nature or essence of man springs forth from Greek thinking and teaching. To the Greeks, man is dual, as we have covered many times. He is made up of flesh (body, physical, material, that which is carnal) and soul (mind, spirit, invisible, eternal, that which is holy or godly). It is the soul which is considered eternal and redeemed by the gods. It is the soul that ascends to the heavens. Knowledge and right thinking or doctrine feeds the soul. Morals and ethics are intellectual concepts that by their very nature are for the soul. This is why commandments and laws from Scripture which primarily deal with the physical are irrelevant to the spiritual man. The gnostic world has no need of higher governing laws, as laws are only for the weak. The Jews of the Tanakh had not this esoteric understanding (i.e. no Holy Spirit) (a little sarcasm!) so they were in need of laws in order to sustain them in their weak faith. To the Greek, the heart is good and the body is evil. When a brother sins or commits atrocious acts, it is merely evil flesh doing what it does by nature. Since the flesh or body does not enter into the heavens, then it does not matter what the body does. Here is how 1Corinthians 6:9-10 would be interpreted by Hellenistic or gnostic thinking: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.". In gnostic thought only the flesh or physical does these things, the real you doesn't. The body is doing what comes naturally. So all things are lawful, acknowledging that some things are not good to do. Man is, in reality, a spirit being, and operates only in another existence, and the things of the world are mundane and for the weak. The soul belongs to the gods and the body is the product of a fallen world and can do no good. The sooner the soul leaves the body the better.
The most natural result of this kind of thinking is the spiritualizing or allegorizing of virtually everything. Simple directions or instructions from the Scriptures become mystical typologies. Types in Scripture are valid, but the type is usually clear and does not appear contrived. The teaching of types also does not eliminate the plain, simple meaning of the text either. For example, it is obvious that the Passover was a picture or type of what has become known as the "Lord's supper". Much of the Passover seder is clearly portrayed and acted upon by Yeshua' the Messiah. This is what true types are designed to do. But they are not designed to eliminate the observance of Passover. The text does not teach that the anti-type is to replace the type. The early anti-Nicene Church, with some exceptions, understood that Yeshua' recognised the Tanakh as inspired and truth. They could not nor would not exclude it from the recognised canon. But by the time these "church fathers" were ready to canonize the written word, they had already concluded that the Old Testament had passed away and YHVH was starting something new and separate from what He had been doing. So what are they to do? Allegorize it, of course! This would be the natural flow of the spiritual man. The Tanakh quickly became a collection of myths, legends, and stories designed to teach the church valuable lessons. These allegories would show the church how fortunate she was to live in the age of grace. Man's soul could now be placed in an eternal, spiritual state by believing the right things and confessing certain propositions about the logos. "What does God require of me?" was replaced by, "Who is the logos?".
THE HEBREW VIEW OF THE NATURE OF MAN
To the Hebrew, man is a unity. He is spirit, he is soul, and he is body, the one man. All is to be holy as YHVH is holy. All is to be righteous, all is to be good, all is to be redeemed and sanctified. In Hebrew thinking, it is what man does and not what man thinks or believes. In Hebrew thinking, what a man trusts and follows determines what a man does. The spirit, soul, and body are all considered to be a man's life, and YHVH's instructions were for the spirit, soul, and body. As you search the Tanakh you will find that the Hebrew words for life, spirit, soul, and breath are used interchangeably. When a man's spirit left him, his life left him. The spirit, soul, and body are all treated as one life. This is imperative to understanding the very nature of the "Godhead", as well. The writer of Ivrim (Hebrews) reveals to us in chapter 4 verse 12 that the Word divides the soul and the spirit. This is true. There is a difference between these two, but they are both the one man. The Hebrew knows nothing of the teaching that the spirit is redeemed and the soul and body are separate issues. He sees YHVH redeeming the whole man by beginning at the very heart of man and working outward to make him complete. In Greek thinking, man is content in knowing that he has believed the right things. In Hebrew thinking, the journey has just begun. He searches YHVH for that which prospers his life. He searches for instructions for the heart, guidance for his soul, and directions for his body. He hungers to know how to love his neighbor, how to treat his loved ones, and how to take care of himself. He longs to know how to worship his Creator, how to celebrate Him, and how to follow Him. The Hebrew man knows that YHVH's instructions will bless him in all his ways, and prosper him wherever he goes. He knows that his God cares about every detail of his life, and is not above the mundane.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊